Titanium Robotics

Matthew Lee

Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from Kristine Franco, a member of San Marino High School’s counseling staff, senior Matthew Lee was named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for February.
And for good reason. Lee has a glittering dossier, topped by his recent acknowledgement as a National Merit Finalist, thus remaining in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.
The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew is also the engineering president of Titanium Robotics team at SMHS and captain of the school’s math and science teams.
For the past year, Lee has also operated a group called TitanHacks, where he manages sponsorships and event planning for a what are called “hackathons,” where programmers team up to create original projects. With the leftover funds, TitanHacks operates a weekly food drive with the First Baptist Church of Alhambra.

Photo courtesy Titanium Robotics
A.J. Wong is shown at the controls of one of Titanium Robotics’ creations.

Matthew Lee still has total recall of the moment. It was early March, and San Marino High School’s Titanium Robotics team was about to depart for a major competition in Kansas City when the group received the bad news.
“We had a lunch meeting scheduled, all about the upcoming Kansas City competition,” said Lee, a senior, who serves as the team’s engineering president. “It was surreal to have to attend the meeting with a totally uncertain and undefined future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the tournament, the remainder of the season and all in-person interaction on Friday, March 13. Typically a hotbed of activity — especially in the weeks leading up to tournaments — the robotics room was immediately abandoned, like most of the campus, as students moved on to online learning or graduation.

Yurina Ishii working on the robot’s motors.

Titanium Robotics is already well into its build season, with about half of it already completed. Starting the beginning of last week, the team set about building the drivetrain for their practice robot, which serves as a sort of first version of the final robot. With the drivetrain—the system that permits the robot to maneuver—completed, production for other mechanisms is already well underway. Much of the team’s progression was made in the robot’s feeder and shooter systems. The “feeder” is the mechanism in which balls used for this year’s competition to score points is transported from the robot’s intake system— where the robot collects the balls— to its shooter mechanism— where it shoots the balls to score points. In order to operate coherently, each constituent piece of metal for each mechanism must be constructed punctiliously, hence the long hours many team members stay after school during work sessions.

The team’s goal is to have the practice robot finished by the end of the work session on Saturday, February 1. In order for this to be achieved, the team needs as many hands as possible! Work sessions take place every weekday after school and on Saturdays; no experience is required and all help is welcomed and appreciated.


Justin Jang, Tyler Hand, and Jack Moffat presenting to mentors the CAD drawings for Titanium Robotics’ first full design of the robot.

With the design process just about complete, Titanium Robotics is now moving on to the actual assembly of their robot for this year’s competition. The focus for the team members is no longer on building prototypes, but rather on building this year’s practice robot— a fully functioning “first draft” of the robot the team is going to take into competitions. The point of this practice robot is to allow team members an opportunity to practice on the handling and production of several mechanisms in the context of the robot in its entirety and enable the team to see the robot once it is wholly complete and make changes and revisions accordingly. As CAD—computer aided design—drawings are steadily completed for each individual mechanism, the team is now dedicating the first few days of their practice-robot-building to the assembly of the robot’s drivetrain, or the system that grants machinery mobility, commonly through the use of tires, wheels, or tank treads.

CAD Captain Justin Jang commented, “the drive train is one of the hardest parts of the robot to manufacture, but I’m proud to see that the team has already made great progress on it.” With a steady pace and notable progress made by every team member each day, Titanium Robotics paves a path for growth, learning, and success in creating an efficient and robust robot, all the while educating and exposing new members of the team and others in the community alike to the industry and hard work behind robotics and STEAM. All of these efforts take place during work sessions every day after school and all Saturdays beginning at ten in the morning. You can also show support for the team at San Marino High School’s Boys Varsity Basketball home games, where the team takes their t-shirt cannon [Ti]rone to launch t-shirts into the crowd. Students are invited to come and help out! No prior knowledge or experience is required.

Justin Jang and Tyler Hand presenting to mentors the CAD drawings for Titanium Robotics’ first full design of this year’s robot.

San Marino High School’s robotics team, Titanium Robotics, made considerable advancements throughout the past week since it held its kickoff for build season to commence. The team came up with a tentative concept of the entire robot, and each of the mechanisms that comprise it. Furthermore, each of these designs have already been proven to perform the way that they are expected, meaning that it is not necessary for the team to construct proof-of-concept prototypes, thus allowing the team to begin creating CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings of the designs. Upon finishing the CAD drawings for the team’s first version of this year’s robot, the team hosted a mentor review on Saturday, January 11. At this mentor review, three team members— CAD Captain Justin Jang, Engineering Vice President Jack Moffat, and Engineering Vice President Tyler Hand— presented the CAD drawings to an audience consisting of several other team members and mentors. Each mentor provided their own insight on how each promoted design could be improved upon, or brought up issues that could arise further along in the building process or while the robot is actually on the field.

The overarching issue that mentors saw with the team’s first robot design concept was, ironically, its simplicity— in an effort to make the robot as efficient and robust as possible, the team created designs whose simplicity reigned supreme, which limited some other capabilities that the robot could otherwise possess. Overall, mentors believed that the designs were an ample starting point that could be built upon in order to permit the full potential of the robot’s mechanisms to be reached. Over the course of the next week the team will be reviewing each critique while altering and expanding upon their designs accordingly. All of this work takes place at work sessions every day in the robotics room (308) beginning at 2:00 until around 8:00 in the evening and on Saturdays from 10:00 until the evening.

If you wish to join the team, participate in the building and designing of Titanium Robotics’ robot, and work with the robot at competitions, come and help out at work sessions; no prior experience or knowledge is required— all that is necessary is a positive attitude and a wish to learn!

Jeff Wang and Bryan Sy contemplate programming strategy.

Titanium Robotics’ build season has officially begun! This past Saturday, the team held its annual kickoff— an event where the team watches the game reveal video for this season’s challenge so that design brainstorming for the robot can begin. To start the game, each robot can be preloaded with up to three Power Cells; teams then have fifteen seconds, an autonomous period (when the robot is not controlled by a driver), to shoot each Power Cell into any of the three Power Ports (goals along the walls of the field), with one Power Port being worth two points, another worth four, and the hardest to reach worth six points. Despite all Power Ports granting a different amount of points, all Power Cells add the same amount of charge to something called the Shield Generator, a balance-like structure in the middle of the field. After this fifteen second period, there is a two minute and fifteen second teleoperated period (when the robot is controlled from a distance by team members with controllers), where Power Cells can be collected by robots from five chutes. Once collected, the robots are driven to the other side of the ‘city’, or field, to be launched into Power Ports— the Low Port for one point, Outer Port for two, and Inner Port for three points— in order to activate parts of the Shield Generator. The robot must also rotate a Control Panel with different colors a certain number of times and then turn the panel to land on a specific color.

All of these tasks are done in order to activate the Shield Generator, and once all tasks are completed by an alliance the Shield Generator is energized, and robots then go to their Rendezvous Point, or a portion of the field surrounding the Shield Generator, in order to make their Shield Generator operative. Robots do so by clinging onto and hanging from the Shield Generator in order to level it. In order to begin brainstorming designs, the team held an event known as “Playdate” where cardboard prototypes are built and presented and shared between team members.

The designs agreed upon at the Playdate are currently being built at after-school work sessions in the Robotics room (308). Please come and join us as we roll into this year’s build season; all help is welcome and appreciated, and no prior experience is required.

Titanium Robotics is a team consisting of over 100 students, mainly from San Marino High School, who come together with a common interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students learn from professional engineers and mentors to build and compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Challenge with a robot of their own design. Programming, electrical work, computer-aided design, and business management are all run by student representatives, making the entire organization student-led from start to finish.

Titanium Robotics with other FRC and FTC teams at the DTLA Mini Maker Faire in Los Angeles.

Titanium Robotics attended one of Los Angeles’ most well-known and anticipated events that happens to be newer compared to others located within the large area that Los Angeles encompasses: the DTLA Mini Maker Faire. The event took place on Saturday, December 7, and consisted of any creators inclined to take their work and share it with the community in a large, public, heavily populated setting. The faire allows “makers” from far and wide with any level of experience, regardless of vogue, to showcase their work to the community, share ideas with one another, and to bring promotional mediums with which they may promote any works they created. It allowed for a safe environment in which both ideas, goals, and publicity can be shared amongst “makers.”

To this event, Titanium Robotics brought its t-shirt cannon, [Ti]rone. Upon arrival, the team set up a booth at its designated spot where attendees could visit at any time as they make their way around all of the booths over the course of the event. The robotics team met with several other robotics teams, as well, including several FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) and other FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) teams, who showcased robots of their own; each booth was unique and offered a new outlook to the experiences and joys of robotics. Every half hour, Titanium Robotics launched t-shirts into the crowd, and in the interim allowed young people who visited the booth to learn to drive the robot and form a basic understanding of how it functions.

Along with finding new people interested in STEM, the team also encountered an old Titanium Robotics team member, who was on the team from 2008 until 2011, and served as an electrical captain back when the team was known as Firebird Robotics. Other “makers” at the faire gave team members t-shirts advertising their products, works, organization, or business so that the team can partake in aiding them in publicizing their projects.

The day went by and concluded smoothly, after the team made a myriad of new connections and allowed for all to witness the hard work that Titanium Robotics puts into every one of its projects.

San Marino High School’s popular Robotics Team at last Friday’s Homecoming Parade.

Titanium Robotics ended the past Homecoming week with a bang; they did a tremendously amazing job at San Marino High School’s Homecoming Parade, to which the team brought their famed t-shirt cannon, [Ti]rone. To finish off the Homecoming experience, the team brought [Ti]rone to the school’s home football game against La Cañada. San Marino High School’s football team beat La Cañada 42 – 7. Aside from the school’s accomplishments involving the parade and win, Titanium Robotics had many of its own accomplishments that day. [Ti]rone launched over one hundred t-shirts, at both the parade and the game! Hundreds of attendees at both events had the opportunity to view the robot and the team’s work throughout the day, and have fun while doing so.

The t-shirt cannon also launched candy into the parade’s audience, and hotdogs into the stands at the football game, with one almost going into one of the marching band’s sousaphones!

The football game was especially successful in terms of [Ti]rone’s performance and operation. With no technical difficulties whatsoever, [Ti]rone launched goodies at the audience after every touchdown made by San Marino, which luckily happened quite a few times at the Homecoming game. Game-and-Parade attendee Rachael Wen noted the team’s success in heightening school spirit by mentioning how “the robotics’ team always does a really great job in hyping up the crowd.”

Titanium Robotics was able to make the events of Homecoming day much more magical, all the while promoting school spirit and supporting the football team’s morale. To help be a part of such events and making them so successful, come to the team’s work sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in room 308 from 3-6:00 p.m. after school. All help is welcome and no prior experience is required. See you there!

Kimia Hassibi, back left, and Business President Madeleine Haddad with the t-shirt cannon, [Ti]rone, at the San Marino Police and Fire Departments’ public safety barbecue last Saturday.
Titanium Robotics just checked off one of its events from their off-season to-do list: San Marino’s police and fire department Public Safety Barbeque, which took place on Saturday, October 12 from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon. Overall, it was a great event packed with fun through the means of learning. Along with several team members taking shifts, Titanium Robotics’ t-shirt cannon [Ti]rone made a grand appearance at this event. Several t-shirts were launched for the enjoyment of the barbeque’s attendees, and several people had the opportunity to drive the robot and learn how it functions. Along with the remarkable displays put on by the robotics team, San Marino’s police and fire department provided several presentations to both demonstrate how they perform their duties and educate the community in regards to public safety procedures. These spectacles included the landing of the departments’ helicopter, much to the delight of the event’s guests. Entertainment and several food options were also available to all those who attended. With the Great California ShakeOut steadily approaching, the robotics team has been occupied with constructing and assigning signs for the high school’s teachers to use during the event, along with any other emergencies that may occur throughout the school year. Titanium Robotics has also been avidly prepping for San Marino High School’s homecoming game and parade. The team will be proudly displaying [Ti]rone once again during the parade, and afterwards, during the much anticipated football game against La Cañada. It would be much appreciated for all who can to either come and help out during these events or show their support amongst the audience. So, please come out and support the team! Regarding long term off-season projects, the team will be prototyping and experimenting with different mechanisms to gain more knowledge and experience in working with, and building new structures. The hope is to apply these newly founded concepts when brainstorming designs later this school year during the team’s build season. Another goal also being to gain the ability to utilize and retain a more extensive and broad understanding of the team’s and robots’ options. All of these projects are being addressed during work sessions, which are currently taking place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3-6 in the afternoon in the robotics room (308). The team would love as many hands as it could get, so plan on coming out to help whenever you can!

Titanium Robotics is a team consisting of over 100 students, mainly from San Marino High School, who come together with a common interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students learn from professional engineers and mentors to build and compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Challenge with a robot of their own design. Programming, electrical work, computer-aided design, and business management are all run by student representatives, making the entire organization student-led from start to finish.

Titanium Robotics’ robot, Galac[Ti]c, about to start a recent match.
This past weekend, Titanium Robotics wrapped up its off-season competitions with a bang! The team attended a competition known as Fall Classic in Placentia. Now, the team is focusing on teaching new members important skills as Titanium gears up for the upcoming build season in January.

Fall Classic followed the same rules as last year’s game, Destination: Deep Space. Teams were tasked with blocking holes in cargo ships and rocket ships with disks, called hatch panels. Once the holes were blocked, the ships could be loaded with balls, known as cargo. Robots competed throughout the day in alliances of three, with each robot having a certain role. For example, one would play defense against other robots while the other two worked on filling up the cargo ship. At the end of each match, robots were challenged with climbing up platforms to get to their “habitat.”

Titanium Robotics finished off the first day of matches as the fourth seed alliance captain and was able to choose which robots to compete with as they entered semifinals. The team was back and better than ever the next day for a new round of matches. That Sunday, Titanium was chosen by the third seed alliance to compete with them against the second seed alliance. Overall, the team did incredibly well, especially compared to their standing at a previous off-season competition, Battleship Blast.

New members on the team were able to gain valuable experiences with the robot and with scouting, a way of gathering information about other robots. Scouting came in very handy on the first day of competition for the team, as the information was used to select an alliance to go into semifinals with. The team also made new connections with other teams and is looking forward to seeing them at future events.

Going into the rest of the off-season, Titanium will be teaching members valuable new skills that will help build a robot and building upon skills that have already been taught. The team will also be attending various community events to give back. On Saturday, October 12, Titanium will be attending San Marino’s Police and Fire public safety barbecue. See you there!